Often on at least some Stack Exchange sites you see people equate "topic" with any and all qualities of a question, answer, or comment, rather than just their topic in the usual English sense. Especially so in the phrases "on-topic" and "off-topic". Invented examples:
- This question is off-topic because it's a list question.
- This question is too broad with too many possible answer to be on topic.
- Recommendations are off-topic.
- This question will just attract peoples' opinions so it's off topic.
Am I right or wrong to be bugged by this? Topic has a meaning in English. It's useful to distinguish the various things that can be wrong about a question, answer, or comment. Asking about boats on a programming site is off-topic. Asking to recommend some programming books in on-topic but it's not a good question for reasons other than topic.
It particularly bothers me when people vote to close a question and click the "off topic" radio button when the question has some real problem but is clearly within the scope of the site.
Taken to its logical conclusion, if we were to go with this new jargonish meaning of "topic" we would not need any close reason other than "off-topic". Are duplicate questions off-topic?
Also, how should we distinguish the two senses "this post is a bad for for SE" and "this post is outside the scope of this SE site". If a question actually is off-topic, how should we say so if people are encouraged to read "off topic" as meaning "has one of many possible problems"?
Are we saying that "on topic" has a different meaning to "with the scope"? Should it be so?
I would like to encourage people to use "off-topic" as a close reason only for questions outside a site's scope. And to encourage people not to be informed about what a question;s scope is and what its other properties are and how to know the difference between the various reasons a question or other post can be bad.
Am I just being a grammar Nazi or is there a meaningful reason to blur the meaning of "topic" on Stack Exchange?
Here are some previous questions that touch on the blurry meanings of "off topic" / "on topic" / "scope" within Stack Exchange: